Tigers closer Joe Nathan made a minor-league rehab appearance today at Triple-A Toledo and left after just 10 pitches while reportedly clutching his elbow.
Nathan is on the disabled list with a strained flexor tendon and was scheduled to throw one inning and/or 25 pitches. He ended up leaving in the middle of the at-bat against his third batter.
Prior to leaving Nathan topped out in the high-80s with his fastball and James Schmehl of MLive.com described him as “clearly in pain” as he walked off the mound.
Some positive news on the Joe Nathan front.
According to James Schmehl of MLive.com, the veteran closer has been cleared to make a rehab appearance Wednesday and Triple-A Toledo and he anticipates rejoining the Tigers after just one outing.
Nathan was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 8 with a Grade 1 flexor strain in his elbow. He’d made just one appearance for Detroit this year, earning a one-out save on Opening Day against the Twins.
Joakim Soria has picked up five saves in Nathan’s absence, but he’ll be moved back to a setup role.
MLive.com’s James Schmehl reports that Tigers closer Joe Nathan threw off a mound for the first time since being diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right elbow. Nathan threw 15 pitches and reported feeling “awesome”. He’s on track to throw a bullpen on Monday. If things go as planned, Nathan could be activated from the disabled list on Wednesday.
Joakim Soria has been closing games out for the Tigers in the interim and has done a good job. In 5 2/3 innings, the right-hander has converted all four save opportunities with a 1.59 ERA and a 4/0 K/BB ratio. Per MLive.com’s Chris Iott, manager Brad Ausmus plans to put Nathan back in the closer’s role and Soria back as the set-up man. Nathan, now 40 years old, is coming off of a miserable 2014 campaign and struggled to open the season prior to his injury.
Joe Nathan was hoping to bounce back from a miserable 2014 season and show he’s still a closer-caliber reliever at age 40, but instead he’s already headed to the Tigers’ disabled list with a strained elbow.
Nathan picked up a one-out save on Opening Day by striking out former teammate Torii Hunter thanks to umpire Joe West’s controversial call. Last season he blew seven of 42 save chances and posted a 4.81 ERA, getting booed off the mound in Detroit several times.
Detroit has another experienced closer in Joakim Soria ready to step into ninth-inning duties and by the time Nathan is healthy there’s a chance manager Brad Ausmus won’t want him back in the closer role.
It took all of one game for umpire Joe West to again make headlines for a call that was either “controversial” or just plain “wrong” depending on how charitable you’re feeling.
West wrung up Twins outfielder Torii Hunter on a game-ending strike three call against the Tigers even though replays showed that Hunter appeared to check his swing on the Joe Nathan pitch out of the strike zone. (Click here to view the play and judge for yourself.)
Hunter predictably got very upset, yelling at West after the game was over, and then he said the following to reporters in the clubhouse:
He gave me no explanation. I think he had a dinner reservation or a concert to play in. That was terrible.
It was a bad call in a very important spot, but even as a Twins fan who generally dislikes Joe West’s behavior I’ll say that check swings are hardly cut-and-dried calls and … well, we have a long season of even worse calls–many of them probably by Joe West–ahead of us. Gotta pace ourselves.